Montana Region 3 Sportsmen Working Group

Ben Lamb

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Aug 6, 2010
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15,698
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Cedar, MI
If you shorten the season you will focus more people in the field for the time given. As is they hunt at their convenience. Given a two week season or less- everyone will be there because they have to or give it up. I've seen the mess in Washington- no thanks! So much of the success in areas I hunt is soley dependant on weather. Many times if you miss the weather event it's better luck next year !!

I saw someone wanted to isolate us to a region. Unless you do that by species many of us will have to choose what we want to hunt. I hunt 5 region three districts. I haven't seen a legal buck at any time of the year for at least 7-8 years and then it was a forky. At least in region 1 I might be able to find a deer. How about predator control. When I'm cutting fresh mt lion tracks 3 out of 5 days I think I know where the deer went.

You want to raise money for FWP. How about an audit of how the money is spent. The biologists I know have multiple districts and other than the winter range survey never get out onto many of them.

How about moving Parks to the DNRC. The opportunity to pay for stinky toilets out of my license fees didn't set well with me when they did it and it still sucks.

As a resident I favor raising NR fees to $2000 and the successful can only apply every 5 years.

Outfitters? How about only on private land and they have to be a resident?

A bit of a radical? Yes! Maybe I have had enough.

I think revisiting lion quotas is a good idea. I'm supportive of healthy, abundant large carnivores on the landscape, but there's a balance especially with cats that needs to be re-evaluated.

FWP got audited a few years ago. I'll see if I can dig that out, but a good place to start is HB2, which is the budget bill that establishes how the money should be spent. Compare that to outcomes and I think there will be a close correlation. Regardless, FWP is flush with cash for the next 4-5 years as they're still benefitting from the increase in sales for resident & NR both, and they were just handed another $10 million of incoming weed money for access & acquisition, and a few other programs.

Moving Parks to DNRC likely would cause diversion issues due to Dingle Johnson monies spent for fisheries in state parks, etc, and there's an issue with LWCF funding and some PR funding as well, especially as Parks is being grown to be Parks & Recreation and will include MORE sportsmen funded lands under their umbrella than currently. There was a big push to move Parks into it's own agency, which had constitutional issues due to there only being 1 spot left for a cabinet level agency to be created w/o amending the MT Constitution to grow more gov't.
 

JLS

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Almost Arkansas…..
A fiscal audit isn’t going to yield much in the way of results. A performance audit may, particularly in regards to the agency’s work in population data and classification data.

Moving Parks is low hanging fruit that is likely make zero significant difference. It’s been talked about for over 20 years (basically since Parka was originally moved to FWP). Given the magnitude of other issues it should be a non starter.

There are a few major driving issues in my mind. Predators and outfitters are not on the list.

First and foremost is revamp seasons and licenses. Decouple deer and elk tags for NR. Institute groups of Hunt Districts in zones similar to what Idaho does. Shorten the bull season to 3 weeks. Have late cow seasons similar to Wyoming. Eliminate rut hunting of mule deer. Stagger deer and elk to reduce season overlap.

Next is actually addrsss the elk management plan. Find out why it is only selectively followed. Making a new one is useless if it will be cherry picked as well.

Take the pink elephant in the room head on and address game damage reimbursement. Times have changed and the hardline approach is passé. Fund it from general fund monies.

End the mindset hunters must pay for everything. It’s stupid. How much money does FWP spend on mitigation of urban wildlife conflicts? It’s a lot. Backyard bears are paid for by sportsman. Why? It’s not a sportsman issue. Same with cougars eating chickens or llamas. This financial burden, along with elk and deer damage compensation should be funded at least partially by the general public. Every damned one of them benefits in some way from the state’s wildlife resources.

To echo Ben, habitat improvement comes with this as the last piece of the puzzle.

Season timing and structure, along with habitat improvements will likely help address the population distribution issues. A management plan that is actually followed, and has damage compensation built in will very likely result in more elk available on public land, for the average and unwashed Joe.

The private land access component is an entire discussion in its own right, and is also very important to this topic as well, particularly as it relates to late season cow hunts in the appropriate zones.
 

Big Foot

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Joined
Nov 1, 2013
Messages
262
Location
Bozeman, MT
A few random thoughts....

FWP staff are routinely on Hunt Talk although most do not post. They do follow these discussions. During my 30 year career I have always gotten better responses from clients, colleagues, agencies, etc. who I didn't bash on public forums. It is fine to disagree with FWP policy, management, etc. but publicly implying that they are all idiots (which is what I got out of the first post) is not a great first step in working towards positive change IMO. Just something to think about.

I'm curious how many FWP biologists were invited to your working group meeting and how many attended? I routinely work with several Region 3 biologists and working with these folks in my opinion is the best way to initiate change. Many FWP Biologists feel the same way that many sportsmen do but have their hands tied to a certain extent. I encourage groups like this to engage with FWP. Work towards common goals and get rid of this US against THEM mentality. I also encourage all involved to truly listen to each other...that is easier said than done.

I fully understand the frustration being felt by many and that is why I was recently appointed to the Region 4 Citizen Advisory Council. I don't know how many Region 3 CAC members were at your meeting or that you are talking to but please reach out to them for assistance. They can't guarantee anything but they do have the ear of Region 3 FWP staff. If you need a list of Region 3 CAC members, I could probably obtain that for you. I am also happy to take concerns to FWP through the Region 4 CAC - feel free to message me. Public comments on the upcoming season and re-districting changes are going to be extremely important.

Mark Traxler

I agree with you about building positive relationships and working with people is the right approach. Having biologist from the department join our meetings would be fantastic as I believe they are the best voices to be heard. If biology was the true guide within FWP, this post would never have been written. There are no implications in the OP about rank and file members of FWP being "idiots" - I personally believe the exact opposite.

If you are curious about who attends the meetings and what is said, I encourage you to attend yourself. PM me your contact info and I will ensure you get notified when we meet next.

In all seriousness, take the bullet points above to the region 4 CAC. I tried to make the concerns from our local meeting as clear as possible in the OP.
 

Treeshark

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Jul 14, 2014
Messages
401
Location
Wisconsin
As a resident I favor raising NR fees to $2000 and the successful can only apply every 5 years.

Make non-res $2k and resident fees $100/$250 for deer/elk and you may actually be onto something that addresses some of the problems you’re trying to fix. But that’s a non-starter (perhaps as it should be).

My $.02, and it’s worth even less. Hope I didn’t derail your thread.
 
Last edited:

BWALKER77

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Jan 25, 2018
Messages
954
Make non-res $2k and resident fees $100/$250 for deer/elk and you may actually be onto something that addresses some of the problems you’re trying to fix. But that’s a non-starter (perhaps as it should be).

My $.02, and it’s worth even less. Hope I didn’t derail your thread.
I think that's reasonable.
 

Gerald Martin

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Jul 3, 2009
Messages
6,437
I posted this on the Bozeman round table thread but I am going to copy this here as well.
Here’s an outline of some of the problems and possible solutions as I see them.

1. Working ranches/Ag and wildlife depredation conflict. Currently, shoulder seasons are not addressing this conflict adequately. In my opinion the late winter shoulder seasons actually exacerbate the problem as continual pressure on public land through the general season and extended pressure on accessible private land teaches surviving elk to find sanctuary on inaccessible private land.
FWP concentrates on unit wide reductions to meet “objectives”. The wrong elk are killed, survivors change their patterns and become habituated to sanctuary private land. The depredation on neighboring properties continues.
Public land and accessible private land elk populations suffer in both quality and quantity of available elk. Hunter satisfaction continues to decline even while “opportunity” increases.

There are several existing tools that can help alleviate landowner concerns, protect the resource and improve hunters’ experience, if they are implemented with several tweaks and the inclusion of some other changes.

The outline of my solution is as follows.
1. Raise the price of all elk tags $10 and all deer tags $5. Earmark the increased revenue for a game damage landowner compensation fund.
2. Tie eligibility for compensation to enrollment in Type 2 Block Management. Landowners still set the rules for access and amount of hunters they allow for safety and quality. All access to Type 2 Block Management is administered by FWP website. Reservations are booked online or by telephone in similar fashion as booking an VRBO or AirBNB. Hunters can view available dates and enter their information to reserve dates. Landowners can also view who is booked for their property and their information.
This would cut down on the amount of phone calls for landowners and would ensure a fair and even process for reservations.
Landowners could reserve dates for family and friends before hunters are allowed to reserve but would not be compensated for those dates. There would have to be a maximum percentage of days allowed to be blocked off to avoid abuse to the system. (Say like 15%)

3. Cut archery season by one or two weeks at the end of archery.
4. Cut rifle season by two weeks at the end and replace the last two weeks of general rifle with traditional black powder.
5. Hunters must choose a region for both deer and elk(can choose different regions for each) Hunters who draw a permit area are limited to hunting that specific hunt area only for that species.
6. End shoulder seasons and use game damage hunts to target specific localized wildlife populations with approval from area biologists.
7.Compensate landowners for game damage that can’t be effectively mitigated by the previous strategies.

Shortening seasons and alleviating constant pressure on public would allow elk to spend more time on public instead of inaccessible private.
 

Shangobango

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Aug 5, 2019
Messages
1,271
Location
Louisiana
I'm curious to what some of the nonresident hunters have to say. Yes this is a Montana issue, but this is taking place on public lands.
What are some things that you would like to see changed? Also if don't want to post here pm me.
I am not an expert on any of this stuff but from my experience in Montana I would say giving the mule deer a break from rifle hunting during the rut would be a great start.

More separation of public land management and private land management would seem like another good starting point.

Cut out the outfitter welfare as well.
 

diamond hitch

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Feb 9, 2020
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751
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Western Montana
Getting FWP to acknowledge that the mule deer are facing extinction in many of the areas is a challenge. They are still giving out doe tags in places that finding a doe is a challenge. Two years ago I made a sweep of southern 380 and cut one doe track in five sections. The closest I came to a deer was in the bottom of a canyon where I found the skeletons where they had yarded up during the winter and died. Field biology from the office is ineffective.

shortening the season is a nice concept but also ineffective. Mine sites are wonderful wildlife refuges. Within 20 minutes of the first shot on opening day the area elk packed up and moved to the reclaim at Beal Mtn. Always frustrating to watch them chewing their cud along the haulages while the trucks drive by. They figure it out very quick. I think I remember the wintering population at Mt Tunnels was over 800 head. Why not? Security, good food on the reclaim and very limited access to the public. The deer population at Hilger was the same.

Many areas in region 3 had hundreds of mulies in the early 90s. In the spring of 92 or 93 they died - all of them. Nothing changed. I still pay for a tag but I don't want to be known as the hunter that killed the last one. I think we are past shortening the season. It's time to close the deer season down in many of these areas until there is a recovery and detail some bios to figure out what happened. My list for closure for deer hunting is 380 south, 350, 318, 322, 370. There isn't anything left what have you got to lose?
 

Pagosa

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Joined
Nov 13, 2011
Messages
1,226
Location
Montana
I posted this on the Bozeman round table thread but I am going to copy this here as well.
Here’s an outline of some of the problems and possible solutions as I see them.

1. Working ranches/Ag and wildlife depredation conflict. Currently, shoulder seasons are not addressing this conflict adequately. In my opinion the late winter shoulder seasons actually exacerbate the problem as continual pressure on public land through the general season and extended pressure on accessible private land teaches surviving elk to find sanctuary on inaccessible private land.
FWP concentrates on unit wide reductions to meet “objectives”. The wrong elk are killed, survivors change their patterns and become habituated to sanctuary private land. The depredation on neighboring properties continues.
Public land and accessible private land elk populations suffer in both quality and quantity of available elk. Hunter satisfaction continues to decline even while “opportunity” increases.

There are several existing tools that can help alleviate landowner concerns, protect the resource and improve hunters’ experience, if they are implemented with several tweaks and the inclusion of some other changes.

The outline of my solution is as follows.
1. Raise the price of all elk tags $10 and all deer tags $5. Earmark the increased revenue for a game damage landowner compensation fund.
2. Tie eligibility for compensation to enrollment in Type 2 Block Management. Landowners still set the rules for access and amount of hunters they allow for safety and quality. All access to Type 2 Block Management is administered by FWP website. Reservations are booked online or by telephone in similar fashion as booking an VRBO or AirBNB. Hunters can view available dates and enter their information to reserve dates. Landowners can also view who is booked for their property and their information.
This would cut down on the amount of phone calls for landowners and would ensure a fair and even process for reservations.
Landowners could reserve dates for family and friends before hunters are allowed to reserve but would not be compensated for those dates. There would have to be a maximum percentage of days allowed to be blocked off to avoid abuse to the system. (Say like 15%)

3. Cut archery season by one or two weeks at the end of archery.
4. Cut rifle season by two weeks at the end and replace the last two weeks of general rifle with traditional black powder.
5. Hunters must choose a region for both deer and elk(can choose different regions for each) Hunters who draw a permit area are limited to hunting that specific hunt area only for that species.
6. End shoulder seasons and use game damage hunts to target specific localized wildlife populations with approval from area biologists.
7.Compensate landowners for game damage that can’t be effectively mitigated by the previous strategies.

Shortening seasons and alleviating constant pressure on public would allow elk to spend more time on public instead of inaccessible private.
I really like this plan/ideas. How about you can only hunt a species with either a rifle, bow, or muzzleloader? I hope this gets pushed through.
 

KB_

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Jul 12, 2018
Messages
525
Location
Bozemen, Montana
Many areas in region 3 had hundreds of mulies in the early 90s. In the spring of 92 or 93 they died - all of them. Nothing changed. I still pay for a tag but I don't want to be known as the hunter that killed the last one. I think we are past shortening the season. It's time to close the deer season down in many of these areas until there is a recovery and detail some bios to figure out what happened. My list for closure for deer hunting is 380 south, 350, 318, 322, 370. There isn't anything left what have you got to lose?

Im confused as to why a restructure of the seasons wont make a difference to you? Across the state I personally feel this would be helpful to make some adjustments to the season dates by targeting specific points in time to relieve some pressure.

"My list for closure for deer hunting is 380 south, 350, 318, 322, 370." < yea your 100% right on that one. I haven't seen a 3pt buck in 380 in 4 seasons. Also doesn't help that clowns are shooting them from the back of their truck 800 yards away when they are spotted.

Close it for 5 years and re-evaluate for a LE tag.
 

KB_

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Joined
Jul 12, 2018
Messages
525
Location
Bozemen, Montana
One thing I don't agree with is raising the price of NR fees. i'm sure I can be convinced but I think its more worthwhile to simply limit the # of NR who get tags. Also and this is just a thought, maybe have NR pick their region if they are looking to get a general tag. That way FWP can gauge where exactly non residents are wanting to go hunt. If I had to guess, Region 3,4 and 7 are the hot zones for non residents.
 

KB_

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Jul 12, 2018
Messages
525
Location
Bozemen, Montana
When
Tue, Sep 7 2021, 5 - 8pm
Location
FWP Region 3 Office
Cost
FREE
Meet with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks director Hank Worsech and deputy director Dustin Temple to learn more about their operations and give your input on managing our state lands

For everyone that was looking to go today.
 

diamond hitch

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Feb 9, 2020
Messages
751
Location
Western Montana
In region 1 along the Idaho border country we saw an influx of Washington and of course California plates and the insanity that came with them. Usually the first two weeks or until the snow came. After the first week they were largely road hunters.

North of I-90 in region 3, I have seen some Minnesota hunters (related to some locals) but most of the plates are local. You are right. There is very much a focusing of NRs in specific areas. I don't hunt in those areas and am not really affected. I do get irritated when the Bozeman imports and NRs want to adjust the seasons and costs to meet their desires. If you like 2 week seasons - go to Colorado.If you like 1 week seasons move to Washington. If you want to raise the resident license fees, get a Montana blue collar job and buy licenses for your kids on our income rates. Montana according to Bozeman is pretty damn irritating. If you have all the answers why didn't you fix the mess you left rather than move here to fix us. You can tell I'm a little hot over this hence my response.

Focus on getting FWP to get bios in the field and listen to them. At this point they are a money gathering agency not a game managing outfit.

I agree with you on the distance shooting issue. Last time I rode through south 380 I was loading stock when a truck pulled up from Bozeman. Two gents got out dressed in camo (third week rifle) no orange and set up their 1000 yd artillary in the parking spot. Please assure me that they walked up to every thing they shot to see if they killed anything or missed. That isn't hunting! It's just shooting.

Rant over. Thank you for your time.
 

Gerald Martin

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Jul 3, 2009
Messages
6,437
In region 1 along the Idaho border country we saw an influx of Washington and of course California plates and the insanity that came with them. Usually the first two weeks or until the snow came. After the first week they were largely road hunters.

North of I-90 in region 3, I have seen some Minnesota hunters (related to some locals) but most of the plates are local. You are right. There is very much a focusing of NRs in specific areas. I don't hunt in those areas and am not really affected. I do get irritated when the Bozeman imports and NRs want to adjust the seasons and costs to meet their desires. If you like 2 week seasons - go to Colorado.If you like 1 week seasons move to Washington. If you want to raise the resident license fees, get a Montana blue collar job and buy licenses for your kids on our income rates. Montana according to Bozeman is pretty damn irritating. If you have all the answers why didn't you fix the mess you left rather than move here to fix us. You can tell I'm a little hot over this hence my response.

Focus on getting FWP to get bios in the field and listen to them. At this point they are a money gathering agency not a game managing outfit.

I agree with you on the distance shooting issue. Last time I rode through south 380 I was loading stock when a truck pulled up from Bozeman. Two gents got out dressed in camo (third week rifle) no orange and set up their 1000 yd artillary in the parking spot. Please assure me that they walked up to every thing they shot to see if they killed anything or missed. That isn't hunting! It's just shooting.

Rant over. Thank you for your time.
Don’t assume that everyone in Bozeman is a recent transplant from another state or isn’t blue collar.

Shorter seasons and more restrictions are not a condition of preference as much as an accommodation to the reality that a resource can’t handle increased pressure forever and a game departments responsibility to spread access to the resource as fairly as possible.

Focusing on NR’s doesn’t fix the problems we currently face. Their numbers have been fixed for general deer and elk tags for many years. (I do think that we could restrict NR sales of OTC B licenses, since they currently aren’t limited in any way.)

Until MT resident hunters embrace the reality that continuing “the way it’s always been” is unsustainable and are willing to put the resource before “opportunity” we will continue to see declines in the quality of our hunting.

Reductions are coming. Whether is from extreme necessity of protecting the few remnants of deer and elk on public land or whether it’s a proactive strategy of managing pressure to the best of our ability remains to be seen.
 

KB_

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Messages
525
Location
Bozemen, Montana
Don’t assume that everyone in Bozeman is a recent transplant from another state or isn’t blue collar.

Shorter seasons and more restrictions are not a condition of preference as much as an accommodation to the reality that a resource can’t handle increased pressure forever and a game departments responsibility to spread access to the resource as fairly as possible.

Focusing on NR’s doesn’t fix the problems we currently face. Their numbers have been fixed for general deer and elk tags for many years. (I do think that we could restrict NR sales of OTC B licenses, since they currently aren’t limited in any way.)

Until MT resident hunters embrace the reality that continuing “the way it’s always been” is unsustainable and are willing to put the resource before “opportunity” we will continue to see declines in the quality of our hunting.

Reductions are coming. Whether is from extreme necessity of protecting the few remnants of deer and elk on public land or whether it’s a proactive strategy of managing pressure to the best of our ability remains to be seen.

I don't think Diamond Hitch is assuming anything. This is an individual who is dealing with a lot of hunting pressure and no game to speak of. I get it, and from what I'm seeing is he is largely agreeing but has a ton of frustration.

I think this is something your going to see a lot of in the coming months as the season is in progress, we should keep note of how its going.

Guys like Diamond Hitch are gonna be some of our greatest supporters if we can actually execute what we are talking about. We gotta do something about the hammering of deer that are simply not there anyway.

Also if we can provide a tangible proof that we are out there trying to improve habitat on public land IE: controlled burns, aerating the ground in good feed areas clearing stream blockages, volunteer to local land owners to help fence repair. I mean there is a ton we can do and what we are probably gonna have to do in order to get some skin in the game and make demands. Otherwise its gonna be tough to be taken seriously.

Just my thoughts.
 

shoots-straight

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Joined
Oct 6, 2005
Messages
6,401
Location
Bitterroot Valley
I posted this on the Bozeman round table thread but I am going to copy this here as well.
Here’s an outline of some of the problems and possible solutions as I see them.

1. Working ranches/Ag and wildlife depredation conflict. Currently, shoulder seasons are not addressing this conflict adequately. In my opinion the late winter shoulder seasons actually exacerbate the problem as continual pressure on public land through the general season and extended pressure on accessible private land teaches surviving elk to find sanctuary on inaccessible private land.
FWP concentrates on unit wide reductions to meet “objectives”. The wrong elk are killed, survivors change their patterns and become habituated to sanctuary private land. The depredation on neighboring properties continues.
Public land and accessible private land elk populations suffer in both quality and quantity of available elk. Hunter satisfaction continues to decline even while “opportunity” increases.

There are several existing tools that can help alleviate landowner concerns, protect the resource and improve hunters’ experience, if they are implemented with several tweaks and the inclusion of some other changes.

The outline of my solution is as follows.
1. Raise the price of all elk tags $10 and all deer tags $5. Earmark the increased revenue for a game damage landowner compensation fund. How about offer a license for those that use private lands. A land owner can ask those hunting private if they have that licence to be there and that money goes in that fund. This would be in addition to the other increase you ask for. I feel those that don't use private lands shouldn't have to pay the same as those that do.
2. Tie eligibility for compensation to enrollment in Type 2 Block Management. Landowners still set the rules for access and amount of hunters they allow for safety and quality. All access to Type 2 Block Management is administered by FWP website. Reservations are booked online or by telephone in similar fashion as booking an VRBO or AirBNB. Hunters can view available dates and enter their information to reserve dates. Landowners can also view who is booked for their property and their information.
This would cut down on the amount of phone calls for landowners and would ensure a fair and even process for reservations.
Landowners could reserve dates for family and friends before hunters are allowed to reserve but would not be compensated for those dates. There would have to be a maximum percentage of days allowed to be blocked off to avoid abuse to the system. (Say like 15%)

3. Cut archery season by one or two weeks at the end of archery. I'm not sure if this would do anything other than taking two weeks off of opportunity. The vast majority of the push in Archery seasons is the first 4 weeks anyway. Then you have youth, and shoulders going on. I don't see a bunch of early archery antelope hunters out. This might be just where I've been. Late archery seasons are lightly participated in.
4. Cut rifle season by two weeks at the end and replace the last two weeks of general rifle with traditional black powder. This would go a long ways in giving opportunity and reducing conflicts. I like.
5. Hunters must choose a region for both deer and elk(can choose different regions for each) Hunters who draw a permit area are limited to hunting that specific hunt area only for that species. This has been going on with mule deer special permits. It really hasn't seemed to work well, and is unpopular with those that have been involved. Unlimited permits made for concentration of kill that might have been spread out to other hunting districts if the hunter go move around. If unlimited permits were removed and just limited it would be better.
6. End shoulder seasons and use game damage hunts to target specific localized wildlife populations with approval from area biologists. This really was working IMO. At least it drove the animals away for the lands that the ranchers didn't want the game on.
7.Compensate landowners for game damage that can’t be effectively mitigated by the previous strategies. This fund might go broke trying to pay everyone on that list.

Shortening seasons and alleviating constant pressure on public would allow elk to spend more time on public instead of inaccessible private. As stated elsewhere, the lands on private have been improved or hold better feed for wildlife. They are guided by the belly to feed where they gain the most value for time spent. Money for habitat improvements on public lands should happen and there's many ways to do that. Rather than paying for block pieces that are marginal at best, I'd rather see some of that money go to improve our public lands.
You will have to click on the quote to see my responses to each.

Future hunting seasons are going to have to get ahead of the curve on the management of hunters. There might be a need for split seasons to spread out the hunters. It's a brave new world we are stepping in now.

Just my .02 cents worth.
 

Gerald Martin

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Joined
Jul 3, 2009
Messages
6,437
Good feedback @shoots-straight . Thanks.

I am seeing a lot of responses highlighting the need to improve habitat and feed on public. I think this is an avenue that need to be explored to see what we can do to facilitate this.
 

MTTW

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Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
333
Location
Montana
There isn't anything left what have you got to lose?
Revenue, that is what they have to lose. That and the fact that it would wake people up to the utter failure of mule deer management in SW Mt.
I could mention another 1/2 dozen units that closing the season would have a very minimal effect on Mule deer numbers, but FWP knows that.

The big problem that I see, is that fixing the Mule deer problem in SW Mt would take the opposite of what the majority of the outspoken members on this site are lobbying for.
It would take less elk on the land, not more. And it would take active predator management. The predator management that I am talking about will not be addressed by relaxing restrictions on taking wolves. Killing more wolves will very possibly make it worse for Mule deer.

There is no doubt in my mind that FWP knows what needs to be done to improve the Mule deer population in region 3.
There is also no doubt in my mind that there will be less Mule deer in region 3 in ten years than there are now.

I copied this a while back, I can't remember exactly where but it sums it up, other than they are careful to substitute conifer encroachment in place of predators. While I will not argue that conifer encroachment can limit carrying capacity for deer, I will argue that at 10 percent of the previous population, conifer encroachment is not a limiting factor.





The spread of conifers: Douglas fir, Rocky Mountain juniper, and other conifers have spread across mountainsides and foothills. ﬔe conifers outcompete the forbs, shrubs (such as mountain mahogany, antelope bitterbrush, and sagebrush), and young quaking aspen that mule deer eat. ﬔis “conifer expansion” has been caused by decades of fire suppression and reduced tree cutting on federal, state, and private lands. 2. Competition from elk and whitetails: Elk and mule deer share much of the same habitat. ﬔough their diets don’t overlap completely, an elk eats three times more than a mule deer and is better able to reach browse in deep snow. In much of Montana’s prime mule deer country, elk numbers are now three or four times greater than they were in the 1980s, and they have taken over areas previously dominated by mule deer. For instance, in several hunting districts in south western Montana, winter elk counts have increased from a total of about 4,000 in 1980 to more than 17,000 in 2015. Mule deer numbers in those same hunting districts have declined by 64 percent. Mule deer also face competition from white-tailed deer, which generally do better in areas altered by human development. “ﬔe increase in conifers, elk, and whitetails in mule deer country is the new normal,” says John Vore, chief of FWP’s Game Management Bureau. “We’ll never have muley numbers in western Montana like we did in the 1980s unless we can magically change all that and make everything like it was 40 years ago.”


The fact that predators don't even get a mention insures that it is all down hill for mule deer from here.
 

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